Posted on October 25, 2018 in Countdown

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A Desperate Man’s Bigotry

So California Republican Duncan Hunter is in a tough fight to hold on to his 50th district seat, so he (this is good, check this) accused his Arab American challenger of belonging to a plot by “radical Muslims… trying to infiltrate the U.S. government.” WHOA! Surely just a slip in a desperate and emotionally vulnerable moment, right? Wrong. This was also the theme of an attack ad he approved for his campaign, which The Washington Post has given four Pinnochios (the worst rating ever) over its total dishonesty, and which it also characterized as “naked anti-Muslim bias in an effort to scare Californians into voting for an indicted Republican incumbent.” Of course, using anti-Muslim bigotry against an Arab American who happens to be Christian highlights the intersection between anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bias, and reaffirms the joint fight we’re all in together. But Hunter’s tactics aren’t surprising. After all, others have also used hateful and divisive campaigning for political gain (cough, Trump, cough). But what has been exceptionally disappointing is the silence of the Republican establishment in the face of this deplorable trend. That’s why we sent them a letter calling on them to speak out. We’ll keep you posted on if/what we hear back.

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Keep Your Hands Off YallaVote

Arthur Jones is a Republican candidate for Congress in Illinois, and he’s also (you won’t see this coming) the former leader of the American Nazi Party. He’s predictably running an anti-Semitic and homophobic campaign, but a recent newspaper ad for his candidacy had (we didn’t see this coming) our YallaVote logo attached to it. The ad attempts to gain the vote of Arab Americans by going after Israel. And to this whole thing, we say: Hell no! That’s why we sent Mr. Jones a cease and desist letter demanding an immediate end to his use of the logo. Jim Zogby further explained: “Art Jones cannot use AAIF’s YallaVote logo in a shameful attempt to exploit criticism of Israel to build support for his anti-Semitic and homophobic agenda. This despicable ad not only targets our Jewish and LGBTQ communities, it also does grave harm to the Arab American community” (you can check out our full take here). Now there is a dispute about how exactly the logo ended up in Arthur’s ad (with some indications it could be the paper’s error), but all that matters is our clear and simple message: our community categorically rejects anti-Semitism and homophobia, as it does all forms of bigotry.

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The Kooky Merger of Hate & Power

The Center for Security Policy (CSP) has been very much in the news as of late. Longtime president Frank Gaffney is stepping down (though still kook-tweeting), and former senior staffer Fred Fleitz will be taking his place. Recognize that name? Fleitz is the current chief of staff for the National Security Council and washired by NSA John Bolton a few months back. Fleitz’s return to CSP after his summertime sabbatical within a pivotal office of the Trump Administration suggests this SPLC-designated anti-Muslim hate group will be enjoying even more access to the White House than before. In other news, the Intercept reported on an event this week co-hosted by CSP featuring “high-ranking officials in several branches of the military.” Based on military policies cited in the article, we could ask the question of whether these officials should (or why they’d even want to) be associating with an organization like CSP, which advocates dangerous, almost laughable, theories about Arabs or Muslims and national security.

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Down with the Post-Truth World

What has become a new trend in politics? Lying under oath when giving Congressional testimony or during an FBI investigation, unfortunately. Much like other Trump Administration affiliates, Wilbur Ross has been caught in a lie. During his congressional testimony in March, Ross stated that he was “not aware” of any conversations between him or anyone on his team and the White House regarding the addition of the citizenship question on the 2020 Census. In a new document obtained through one of six court cases challenging said question, Ross’s attorneys write that he “recalls that [Steve] Bannon called Secretary Ross in the Spring of 2017 to ask Secretary Ross if he would be willing to speak to then-Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach about Secretary Kobach’s ideas about a possible citizenship question on the decennial census.” The attorneys added that discussions about the citizenship question between Bannon and Ross took place in Spring of 2017 and “at subsequent times.” As we await the removal of the question through the six cases, we would like to echo the sentiments at the Post: Ross, seriously stop rigging the Census. And Congress, maybe do something about the fact so many people holding public office are comfortable with perjury.

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Kicking the Palestinians While They’re Down

As if the Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, their ending of aid to Palestinian refugees and East Jerusalem hospitals, and their closing of the Palestinian Diplomatic Mission in Washington weren’t bad enough, they just shut down the US consulate in East Jerusalem -- the one that deals primarily with Palestinians. It was sold by Trump’s State Department as a non-political move done purely for “efficiency,” but the reality could not be farther from the truth. The symbolic part is the obvious one: With this move, the Trump administration is signaling as loud and clear as ever that it doesn’t view the Palestinians as a people who are deserving of a direct relationship with the US. But the practical part is also critical: Palestinians are barred from entering Israel except for special circumstances. So, by declaring the US Embassy to Israel in West Jerusalem (off limits to most Palestinians) will be taking on the consulate’s work, a literal roadblock now bars Palestinian access to US officials. To get your head around this whole thing, just read Jim Zogby’s column here.

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His Last Words: What the Arab World Needs

The Arab world needs a modern version of the old transnational media so citizens can be informed about global events. More important, we need to provide a platform for Arab voices. We suffer from poverty, mismanagement and poor education. Through the creation of an independent international forum, isolated from the influence of nationalist governments spreading hate through propaganda, ordinary people in the Arab world would be able to address the structural problems their societies face.” -- Jamal Khashoggi

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